If you’re looking to travel the world, hang with the cool and the beautiful and party like a rockstar, few jobs will make it happen like being a DJ.
I’ll start by saying, being a DJ isn’t just something you’ll be good at over night. But, if you have a passion for music, a flair for showmanship and a bit of the party animal in you – you’ll be prime for the international DJ circuit.
I’ve been a DJ for around 15 years and started out playing shows in my hometown, often for free drinks. After a while I gained a rep as a good party DJ, someone who wasn’t so above themselves that they wouldn’t play just one genre. I ended up running various successful club nights in the south of the UK, ran a DJ for hire company and eventually hit the international scene.
It is now so easy for the aspiring DJ to get started. No longer do you need expensive and heavy vinyl! So if you think you’ve got what it takes lets run through how to get going.
How Long Can I Take To Be A Pro DJ?
Whooo! Slow down there.
There is a definite one foot in front of the other between learning to DJ and being good enough to rock a party til it pops.
If you work hard, practice daily and get a regular gig to hone your skills, you can be ready to tour in 3-6 months.
Realistically, aim for a year to be professional level.
Equipment For DJ’ing
We’ll assume you’ve got a laptop. If you’ve got an old beat up one you might want to invest in a more up to date model. Ideally a Macbook. If not then you’ll want a fairly fast processor on a Windows laptop.
Original DJs would learn on vinyl or CDJs, but the modern DJ can grab a digital controller and be on their way.
If you have access to CDJs or Technics turntables then it can be a good idea to get started on these. The hands on nature means you have a more natural connection to blending the music, or ‘beat matching’.
But we’re gonna focus on digital DJ controllers to get you started:
This is one of the best entry level to pro mixing decks you can get. It’s a bit bulky so if you’re travelling a lot it may get a bit awkward. But as a piece of equipment to get you up and running, this is pretty much second to none.
Big jog wheels for tracking through the music. Easy to use fader sliders and lots of customization options.
If you’re looking for the daddy of DJ’ing equipment, the Technics 1210s of digital controllers, this is it. It’s sturdy, professional standard and will allow you to go from bedroom to pro with relative ease.
Hercules make decent hard wearing portable DJ components. I used to use a Hercules console which did me well for a long time. The 4MX is a top end version of their wide range of DJ consoles and is highly recommended.
What DJing Software Shall I Use?
There is no right answer, despite what many will tell you. Some will swear by Serato, others will sniff at you unless you’re using Traktor. Ignore them. Pick which one works for you.
I’ve used Traktor and Virtual DJ and couldn’t pick between the two. They both have pluses and minuses. Virtual DJ is so user friendly and is pretty much plug and play. Traktor is more geared towards turntablists (scratching etc).
Most of them have a free trial so check out which one suits you best.
Practice Practice Practice
In the world of DJing there is no substitute for just practicing hard. Play a little mix every day, mess around with genres, listen to mix tapes and record your mixes for you to check back.
You’ll make lots of horrible mistakes in the early days but hey, that’s the point. Iron those out and find your style.
One of the most important things about DJing, perhaps more than being able to mix seamlessly, is knowing your music. You will be on the spot, needing to pick a good tune sometimes within 3 minutes. Know your music, have a shortlist of go to tunes but be prepared to adapt.
As a DJ you never stop learning. If you hear a good tune in a shopping mall, Shazam it. If a DJ somewhere else plays a tune, ask him what it is. Trawl YouTube, listen to radio shows, download other DJ mixes and find their music.
Get A DJ Job And Learn More
I’m sure your local town has loads of bars, clubs, restaurants, local festivals and pop up events. Play as many of them as you can. Get your name out there, hand out business cards, offer to play events for free until people know you’re good.
The point here is you’ll need to know how to read a crowd. If you’re playing intense deep techno to a group of old ladies, or obscene hip hop to young kids then you’ve still got a way to go.
Learn to read the audience, work out what the vibe is and take them on a journey with you.
You might have a preconceived notion that you are only a DJ who plays one type of music, but try and vary it. People like to hire specialists but equally, it’s good to know how to play across the board.
Get Out There…
Once you have mastered your craft, it’s time to hit the big wide world.
DJs aiming for the big time often head to party destinations like Ibiza, Las Vegas or Miami. Sure you will find gigs there, but think outside the box. There are so many awesome places around the world where you can spin some cool tunes and get paid…
Cruise ships are always hiring for DJs, but often want a fairly adaptable type who will play everything from country and western to 90’s pop classics. Not much call for deep house I’m afraid. However it is tax free so contact companies like Royal Caribbean for their jobs.
Hotels and corporates often need DJs for ongoing events. Places like Dubai have clubs in hotels and often have residents who live in for free rent and some additional money. The music can be eclectic but usually quite mainstream.
Register with companies like DJ Agency. They will send you emails regularly with upcoming international jobs. Some are serious dream DJ jobs, some are decent paying gigs in cool places.
Check also listings on sites like Gumtree and Craigslist.
The other way and the way that I did it was to turn up in town, walk around clubs and bars and ask if they need a DJ. After a few days you’ll have several leads and eventually you’ll get a gig. Stick at it!
So if your dream is to be an international playboy DJ, get practicing and aim for the stars.
If you want to read more about how to DJ, grab this guide from Amazon.
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